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The Outsiders: Critical Review Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Jul 8th, 2020


A film is a visual medium and normally attempts to portray certain parts on thoughts of characters not explicitly expressed. Recognizing themes of loyalty, moral crisis, honor, and revenge, Ford Coppola brings life into the film The Outsiders.

Thus, this analytical treatise attempts to explicitly and critically review the elements of storytelling, acting, cinematography, editing, sound and style, directing, themes, genre, and the impact of the film on the society, framing and scene selection in the film The Outsider. Besides, the treatise analysis the main themes in the film directed by Ford Coppola.

Story Telling

At the onset the film, viewers are introduced to the class stratification in the society and rivalry between the rich kids and Curtis’ camp. Its visual representational meaning conveys the relationship between Curtis and the depicted structuring of subsequent scenes. The creation of a visual representational meaning proposed the space-based model for analysis centered on the placement of objects within the semiotic space as represented in the plot of the film (Monaco, 2009).

The relationship between the visual participant-interactive or represented- in this film is realized by elements defined as vectors or processes which correspond to a group of action in the surprise of fear (Coppola, 1983, scene 8). The story takes place in a society consisting of clear lines between the rich and the poor.

Coppola has created an interesting fictional premise that takes the route of a thought-provoking path of action and chase scenes. Reflectively, this creates a feeling of an imaginative casting. Factually, the storyline is far more and fascinating than the film. Coppola even goes ahead to include slow motion pictures yet the film is a high speed genre.

This adversely distracts the flow from its original interesting and provocative aspects. For instance, in scene seven, where the Greasers are in the church, the audience is interrupted by their presence which the director modified through the use of slow motion pictures of them (Coppola, 1983, scene 7).

The theme of violence is fully exploited. However, the thriller misses the truly poetic orchestrations of actions and heroic displays of bravado especially on the aspect of flow. The film has an intriguing premise on the theme of violence: characters in the film are drunkards, smokers, bullies, and are involved in fights using crude weapons and even end up killing (Coppola, 1983, scene 2-8).


This metaphysical fiction genre captures the lives of the Greasers (Curtis, brothers, and friends living in the low income side of the town) and the Socs (wealthy kids living in higher income side of the town). Drawn from life experiences, this movie reveals the decay of the society as contributed by the themes of monopolistic corporations, misery, twin-self, paranoia, violence, peer influences, and drug abuse.

The actors are mostly young adults who still live a carefree life in the midst of poverty. From the third scene to the seventh scene, the Greasers are drunk. The state of anomy in the story line seems to suggest a weak social system and failed family life. For instance, Curtis brothers and their friends find themselves in the company of chaotic greasers. Across the film, a series of tragic events unfold and climax with death. The main character looks moderately concerned and a bit confused. In fact he fails to play his role convincingly.

Cinematic Perspectives

Contact is one of the most important visual systems as it enables the viewer to distinguish between images that depict different objects and scenes, such as a person or an animal. Contact visualization has been achieved by use dark background that introduces the characters at the beginning of the film.

However, from the picture motions, the main character is very cautious in thought and action pattern. Furthermore, the lighting also creates an attitude which relates to the way the viewer relates to the image in either horizontal or vertical angle (Monaco, 2009). Reflectively, when the viewer looks from a vertical angle, it is in order to opine that it depicts class stratification. For example, when the viewer looks up from a low angle, the motion images show rebellion from authority.

On the other hand, when the viewer looks down from a high angle, the images show vulnerability. In the film The Outsiders, the above cinematic invisibility forms indicate the themes of vulnerability, fear of the unknown and class stratification surrounding this society. These themes are critical in exploring the plot of the film set in a background of poverty and violence (Coppola, 1983).


Visual communication relies on both the eyes that see the images and the brain that processes and makes sense of the information received. An active mind therefore is capable of remembering visual images; consequently having both text and images enables one to analyze the pictures (Monaco, 2009).

The frame in the storyline of this film deals with factors that the plot language is ill equipped to handle. To be precise, the visually salient elements of the subject and its spatial position are symmetric. In the third scene, the frame picture of Curtis invokes meaning by adding information to the words presented, for example, the story teaches on the importance family values of care, protection as a measure against deviant behavior (Coppola, 1983, scene 4).

This frame of the film creates a conceptual process that is visually characterized by the presence of a chronological order piece. This conceptual process defines, analyzes and classifies the place, people or things including abstract ones into a symbolic and analytical parameter. The classification categorizes people, things or places in a tree structure in which things are represented as belonging to a particular class or order. In the film, conceptual processes occur when Curtis and the brothers encounters a surprise fear of the unknown

Composition and Soundtracks

Since the invention of motion pictures, music has been a vital tool as a communication medium in films. As a matter of fact, the use of music resonates on the facets of the plot and its significance in defining and modeling the synopsis via the creation of desired effects (Monaco, 2009).

Often, music takes the form of filmic metaphor, that is, the message being communicated. The choice of instrument used and monotony of the soundtrack Stay Gold in the film The Outsiders and Tomorrow is a Long Time by Elvis Presley have created the unique coded sounds for recognizable geographical access.

Though constantly and consistently playing in the background, these soundtracks are not heard consciously. Rather, they function actively in the subconscious mind as they lead the audience to the preceding scene. Besides, tonal balancing makes these soundtracks a subordinate to visuals and dialogue, though they are part of the narrative vehicle (Coppola, 1983).

The background sound track Stay Gold by Wayne Wonder in the film createsan ambience in the plot and ensures continuity as integrated by emotions. In the process, emotional act is invoked for different characterized trait played by each character in the cast.The emotional play is organized into music to make the audience appreciate and feel the same way as expected from the film maker.

From the type of music being played, the audience can predict the turn of events in the next scene; whether bad or good. Besides, this soundtrack evokesthe sensational horror of the synopsis (Monaco, 2009). Without music, this narrative presented in motion pictures would have minimal impacts on the audience as compared to the same with a variety of musical soundtracks (Coppola, 1983).

In addition, the song Tomorrow is a Long Time by Elvis Presley in the film enables the audience to identify themselves with Curtis and relate to his role in the film. This composition relaxes the mood in the movie as sadness intensifies. To align to the traditional setting aspects of production design and the society, this composition heightens hyper-real palate of emotional expression.

Moreover, this choice of music was essential in the need for a proper balance of production aural, sound accordion, and permeates scenes (Monaco, 2009). Subsequently, this balance has facilitated the addition of decadent uncertainty feeling across the film and in the cast (Coppola, 1983).

Style and directing

As a matter of fact, irrespective of the level of knowledge and understanding of research facets, literature versions are inclusive of literature tools such as metaphors. Literature comparison is about enjoying the phrases, feeling the actor’s words in action, imagining, and placing oneself in the actor’s shoes.

Creation of scenes with consistent assumptions and symbolic insinuation add comprehensiveness to film perception by the audience.The film shows how an individual’s sense of identity is vulnerable to manipulation by others within the same peer group (Coppola, 1983, scene 5). Coppola relied heavily in a balance of irony, realism, and parody in the film The Outsiders to present a distinct literary style in depicting different societal setups.

The director artistically underscores the traditional position on triangulated desires as a trajectory and paradoxically dependent on desire nurtured by peer pressure to form the underlying huddles towards fulfilling the traditionally internalized protagonist beliefs in discipline as a normative social positioning institution. Reflectively, integrating this in the theme of triangulated desires to overcome introduces physical and emotional insistent which is climaxed in momentous fulfillment achievement as perceived by the Greasers.

The theme of hidden and recurring desires control the lives of the main characters in this wobbly plot. This aspect is narrow and creates an essence of assuming a static plot setting (Monaco, 2009). This is a wise way to maintain the literature touch, making it simpler to understand. Thus, the director has created a quantifiable and intrinsic viewer understanding of what metaphoric use of a character was about and the resultant effect created (Coppola, 1983).

Significant lessons

Reflectively, human soul acquires great experience and remains unhurt in the experience of maturity in expression and emotional display. Human intellection is healthier when people lead the “life of nature” and are not troubled with societal challenges which in the real sense do not exist. Besides that, when people persistently build original intention, without conforming to recognized culture, they would never be confused in speculation. Instead their intellection would have achieved significant reality that other individuals would learn from them.

As a matter of fact, these events indicate that the Greasers and Socs had themselves to blame for their unfortunate situations. Their unruly behavior and abuse of drugs not only affected their lives but also the lives of their family members. In fact, their lives are consumed by series of sad events as it is apparent that the Greasers may not overcome poverty (Coppola, 1983). Besides, their low economic class is an impediment towards relating with the rich Socs.

From this film, Coppola displays the existing class discrimination on the basis of the economic worth. The haves always look down upon the have-nots simply because of the external advantages they may have above others. In addition, Coppola displays alcoholism and drug abuse as a rebellious strategy against the harsh realities of the society.


This film adopts a mixture of fantasy and western genre. Since the plot is directed towards a well arranged tone, the film can be classified as a genre film. The elements of tone, music track, and character of the cast is critical towards genre classification.

Criticism and Analysis

The film also elevates doubt of irony and actually misleads viewers with incorrect and strident imagery. Moreover, the film is a sarcastic declaration on unrealistic obsession with violence. Actually, this aspect is informed by the perception that the film holds a solemn disposition on the decay in the society. Actually, the director attempted to suggest a swift change of imagery which entailed street rivalry and darkness. Coppola deliberately uses such metaphors to portray a practical and likely result of an obsession with violence.


From the above reflection, it is apparent that Coppola’s film The Outsiderscombines the artistic presentation and the soundtracks to create a sense of drama within a minimal feeling of manipulation. Coherently, the level of auditory componenthasa different cinematic repertoire for sensory connection; commonly referred to as context modality.

Generally, from the stimuli created by movie excerpts and series of dynamic structural alignment in the film The Outsider, it is in order to accredit Cappola for his creativity. The performance of the cast is not condescending. Thus, it is in order to confirm that this film have lived to its potential.


Coppola F (Executive Producer). (1983). The Outsiders [DVD]. Warner Bros: California.

Monaco, J. (2009). How to read a film: movies, media, and beyond. London, UK: Oxford University Press.

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